By Royce Carlson
Art dealer Doug Stuber was pulled out of a boarding
line at Raleigh-Durham airport and told that he was not allowed to fly
overseas. Stuber ran Ralph Naderís North Carolina presidential campaign
in 2000 and was informed that the reason he was not allowed to fly is
because he is a Green Party member. Stuber concluded that the U.S. Justice
Department must now consider Greens as terrorists even though the partyís
values include such principles as nonviolence and social justice.
Virgine Lawinger, a nun, was prevented from boarding a flight to Washington
last spring along with 20 students. She is an activist with Peace Action and
her group was flying to Washington to lobby against military aid to the
Colombian government. "Some of us were taken to another room and
questioned by airport security personnel and local sheriff's deputies,"
Barbara Olshansky was ordered by airport security personnel to pull her
pants down in full view of other passengers at Newark International Airport in
March, 2002. The next time she flew, she was also pulled out of line. She was
also subjected to extra scrutiny the next two times she tried to fly. Olshansky
is the assistant legal director for the left-leaning Center for Constitutional
Rebecca Gordon and Jan Adams missed their flight out of San Francisco last
August because they were pulled out of line and questioned by the San Francisco
police. They are both Bay Area peace and justice activists.
Since 9-11, airport security has been tightened causing delays in boarding
for many people and worse problems for certain people. Apparently lists are
compiled by various government agencies containing the names of people who are
considered a security risk. According to a spokesman for the Transportation
Security Administration, there is a list of about 1,000 people who are
considered threats to aviation and are not allowed to fly for any reason. There
may be another list for activists.
The TSA has no guidelines to determine who gets put on the list and there
are no procedures to get oneís name removed from the list if it gets on the
list by mistake according to Transportation Security Administration spokesman
Now a new system that conducts background checks on all airline passengers
is about to be put in place. "CAPPS II is based on the same concept as the
Pentagon's 'Total Information Awareness' program, which proposed massive
fishing expeditions through some of our most personally sensitive data,"
says Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program.
This system will include a color-coded status assigned to each passenger.
Passengers will be tagged as green, yellow, or red depending on the governmentís
assessment of security risk with red being assigned to suspected terrorists and
green to those deemed not to be a risk. Passengers given a yellow rating would
be subjected to intensive security screening. It is unclear who would get a
yellow rating. "This system threatens to create a permanent blacklisted
underclass of Americans who cannot travel freely," said Katie Corrigan, an
ACLU Legislative Counsel.
Andrew Wang was chosen for an extensive search at Newark International
Airport and was wanded three times and had his carry on luggage meticulously
searched. The procedure took half an hour. Wang took some time later to watch
people going through the airport security checkpoint and noticed that, of 73
passengers that passed through, 38 of them were subjected to closer scrutiny.
Of the 8 people who looked Middle Eastern, all 8 of them were pulled aside. 8
out of 11 people who looked East Asian were stopped. 6 out of 7 who looked
Indian, and 3 out of 5 who were Hispanic were also checked. Of the 35 white
passengers who passed the checkpoint, only 3 were taken aside.
It is obvious that airport security personnel are choosing who gets extra
scrutiny based on the color of the passengerís skin or the shape of their
eyes. During the incident where the nun and her 20 students were stopped from
flying, a deputy said that they were looking for Hispanic names, according to
Kate, one of the students.
Apparently, if you arenít white, you can expect to be harassed at U.S.
airports. Even if you are white and you are a member of the Green Party, or are
known to belong to a group that disagrees with the government, you are likely
to be subjected to extra searches and questioning and might not be allowed to
This reminds me of the stories I heard about Soviet Russia back during the
Cold War. The Russian people were not free to travel and were subject to all
kinds of harassment. Now itís happening here in the United States of America.
Every week our country is becoming more of a police state. Every day we are
becoming less free.
Sources and Resources
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is
working in this area. If you are subjected to unreasonable questioning and
searches at an airport, or if you are not allowed to fly, the ACLU has put a
"no-fly list" complaint form on its web site at http://www.aclu.org
With Muslim Name Is an All-American Suspect - New York Times
II Data-Mining System Will Invade Privacy and Create Government Blacklist of
Americans, ACLU Warns - ACLU
security a hub of inequality - By Andrew Wang
Anti-War Activists Snagged by "No Fly" List
by Matthew Rothschild - Common Dreams article.
Detained in Milwaukee:
Are You on the No Fly List? - The Progressive
The Government's Air Passenger Blacklist - Alternet.org
Party "Terrorists" - By Frederick Sweet
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